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tv   Charlie Rose  PBS  October 30, 2014 12:00am-1:01am PDT

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>> rose: welcome to the program. we begin this evening with michael lewis whose written a series of best sellers it all began with liar's poker 25 years ago. >> i look for emotion. i like something, i need to feel something about the story that is going to get me out of bed in the morning. that's the sustaining thing. >> rose: that's a question. >> it's not just a question it's like a feeling, something that really gets my juices flowing. and it's a different thing with each book, but i just like the emotional, i'm having an emotional experience diswroovment we end with aaron david miller's book the end of greatness which he talks about what makes a great president and why we have so few. >> i began to understand about the presidency greatness three undeniably great presidents in
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250 years. that undeniable greatness was driven by personality, character and capacity but largely by circumstance. and the circumstance was nation crumbling crises. which is why i argue in the book quite provocatively is you don't want another great president because if you have one -- >> rose: you have another great crises. >> exactly. >> rose: we conclude this evening with russell james, a photographer. >> beauty has changed, i've developed it, i lived life spending time in haiti and taking portraits of people down there. i say it with complete honesty but when i'm photographing a person albeit an elder member of the tribe there's a beauty about the photograph. it's the strangest thing but it's so careful and engaging when you're in it. i get lost in that money. >> rose: michael lewis, aaron david miller and russell james when we continue.
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>> rose: funding for "charlie rose" is provided by the following: >> rose: additional funding made possible by: >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: michael lewis is here, he rose to fame 25 years ago with the publication of his first book liar's poker, the book captures the frenzied years on wall street in the 19 8's 0. he was a bonds salesman. tom wolf wroart liar's pokerring the funniest book on wall
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street. the new edition. i am pleased to have michael lewis back at this table. good you see you. >> thank you. six months ago. >> rose: let's first talk about what's the difference in wall street. this is the obvious question. you did this because. >> okay, i'll answer -- because i can. >> rose: that's a great answer. >> one of my ideas but i couldn't see a reason to say no. it's never lost, they sell lots of books every year. i think what has and hasn't changed. what that changed the story of young people rolling into wall street and making a lot of money not knowing anything. so that's sort of, that seems to be an eternal story right now. i mean what has changed is wall street's gotten a lot better at disguising with us because it's gotten more complicated so it's hard for the outsider to see, even if it seems transparent, it's so complicated it's not.
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so sub-prime collateralized debt obligations and the structure of the stock market. >> rose: all of those kinds of secures done away with after the collapse in 2008 or back in full force. >> they're not back in full force they're back. they haven't been band or anything like that. the other change has changed. there wasn't the idea, even i left wall street in 1988. there was no such thing as too big to fail. if a firm screwed up it was going to go down, a trading firm. that's very different. what's happened, the other thing that's happened is like a stash of trend that begins with liar's poker around that area. free agency. people not wedded to their firms but wedded to their markets and they bounce around from firm to firm to firm. it creates a climate of more of a short term view thing that people much more interested in the short term than long term. they don't have the long term interests, the shore term interests. >> rose: how about the prominence of hedge funds and
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private equity. >> that's a great deal. the question i have is this whole sector being disrupted by technology. i think it is because basically what it is it's intermediaries. especially the intermediary side of the business. and the internet has been really harsh on intermediaries everywhere. but wall street -- >> rose: eliminates the middleman. >> right, eliminates the middleman. this is an industry that's premise on the need for the middleman. you wonder how it moved forward with the innovation that happened. es not the hedge fun but the big banks if they're scrambling around to preserve their life-style without having the same social and economic function to perform. >> rose: we still need big banks because corporation need a place to borrow moneyy and do things. >> you can make the argument we
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don't, but if we do -- >> rose: acquisition. >> i'm sure there are useful things, right, whatever they are. but you back away from it a lot of things had he historically done you don't need to do. so that creates a problem. in addition you got now math in regulation to the response to the crises which i think is harder to do. >> less leverage in some cases. >> it's changed and how it's not changed. it has become broadly, i mean at the same time there's all this like interest in transparency like we're going to be clear about what we're doing and why. it is basically indecipherable from the outside these firmment much harder to understand than 20 years ago. and there is a much greater interest or obsession with their public image. so the kind of, the self consciousness with which they present themselves to the outside world is unlike anything -- i could have written this book. there's no way.
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in fact after i left they started to make people find things saying you won't write a book if you come work here. >> rose: it ruined his career and made yours. >> and left politely. that's right. it's just there's the relationship between paul street and the rest of society is even less healthy than it was. the society across wall street left which is saying something because it wasn't like there was a lot of trust in the area. but wall street trusts the society less in a funny way. they don't trust the society to understand it. >> rose: it's an old question but are you surprised more people haven't been prosecuted for thing that happened during 2008. you're seeing them go after the banks. banks are paying huge fines but it's not an individual. >> no the individuals are untouched, right. i don't know because i mean the truth about the financial crises
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is that what was scandalous and what was legal. i think a large amount of the behavior was legal and that's the problem. so i always been cherry of like calling for people scouts because what tends to happen is someone gets lynched and everybody feels like they got it but they usually get the wrong guide or they do it the wrong way. it's like the public appetite for vengeance in an unhealthy way. i don't know if i will go to jail or not but it is outrageous. it's too big to fail. it's a huge problem. we need to establish if you were in this supposedly competitive marketplace and you fail you fall. >> rose: when you left princeton, what did you think you wanted to do. >> well very briefly i thought i wanted to be an art historian. my thesis told me not only were there no jobs and it was insane but also that i wasn't probably cut out for it.
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>> rose: that would have been great. think of the books you would have written if you became an artist. the greatest novel. >> we never would have met. >> rose: you would have written something that made a big huge movie and you more famous than you are now. >> very quickly i figured i wanted to write. >> rose: you knew that before wall street. >> yes. >> rose: wall street was a stopping point. >> i had a funny conversation. a few weeks ago i bumped into a friend of mine who was in my solomon brothers training class and he went into the mortgage market. i was at a mortgage banker's day and we sat and i said do you know do you remember when we first met. no. he came into the training class, you sat down next to me and introduced yourself and said what are you hear fore. i said i'm here because i want to back a mortgage banker person. and said what are you for and i said i'm here to write a book. he swears it's true. i knew that i was chiefly interested in having experiences in life i could then write about. >> rose: so you were in search for a story.
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>> i was in search for life experience. i didn't know what i wanted to write about but this can't be sad in the middle of the action. see how this world work. >> rose: i'm saying this, but i was reading, you were really good. you have this wonderful ability to describe themes too. it's, plicit. you had that talent early, yes? >> well, it took a long time to be identified. so if i had it early, i mean i didn't write for newspapers or anything like that and i got a lot of c's on the english paper, i don't know. i liked the feel that came over me when i sat down with a bank sheet of paper. i liked having to tell a story. and but there was no particular reason why i thought, nobody told me i was going to make a living doing this, i just started do it, very naively, i
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didn't know anybody who wrote books. it took a while to digest the idea. >> rose: do your parents read books. >> yes, my parents did but i'm from new orleans. it was a story-telling culture but it wasn't a literary culture. so it didn't, it took a while to get here. >> rose: i'm interviewing someone later who is a filmmaker and he says there's three things he looks for. first of all he looks for a charismatic character to be the center of his action. b, he looks for narrative and c he looks for subject that interests him. that almost fits you doesn't it. >> it's all very good. i would add one other. i would add emotion. i need to feel something about the story getting me out of bed in the morning. that's a sustaining thin. >> rose: a question. >> not just a question like a feeling, something that really gets my juices flowing. it's a different thing with each book but i just like the emotional, it's an emotional experience.
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>> rose: now you go in search of that or does it come to you. >> it more comes to me. i graze. i talk to a lot of people i think about writing magazine pieces, i pick up and drop things. when i hit something i think wow this is rich material. i hang around until i think wow i feel something about this. >> rose: do you have an instinct this is it and it never got to be it. >> i never got far along where i thought i had a book where i didn't have a book, no. i have a few that are still on the back burner but i think i'm going to do them. >> rose: what's the hardest thing for you. >> structure. no question. figuring out how to tell the story. where i begins, where it ends. what are the beats of the story like how it happens. >> rose: chapter to chapter. >> yes, how do you get from here to there and where do you want to go. once i get the reporting like the gathering of the material and the structuring of the thing goes hand in hand. i'm in agony about how the story, the best way to tell a
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story. when you tell a story the important thing is you leave out. so what can i leave out and get this story. how do i tear it down, what it should be. once i got that, the words are easiest. the words come very easy. i wrote flash board in four or five months worked on it a year and-a-half before that. i did this thing in probably four months. >> rose: where are you in finding your next subject? >> i have several. i know the next few probably. >> rose: the next few books. >> i think. something might walk in the door. >> rose: can you work on them -- >> i fiddle with them until one comes to a boil. i'm writing a tv show now that's a little different. when i'm done with that i have a book i want to do. >> rose: what's the setting. >> wall street in the 40's; is that right big characters. >> based on real people. inspired by life. but it's a way, wall street
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today is hard to dramatize. it's very complicated. it's so abstract. i think there may be a trick in going back in time to speak to this moment but sorry, i, the story kind of walks in, i get interested in them i kind of know what the next few are i think. but you never know what's going to show up. >> rose: would i have been good if you stayed at wall street. >> terrible. >> rose: didn't they give you $225,000 bonus when you left. >> it's all true. >> rose: then you won at liar's poker. >> they were deceived into thinking i had a future in that business. by the end of it i could hardly get myself out of bed and drag myself to work i was so bored witness. once you stop learning it ceases to be interesting. once i saw what it was it wasn't that interesting and i knew how bad i would get. i would have been terrible, i don't know if i lasted another year but i left at my peak which is two and-a-half years into it. it was perplexing to them.
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i really liked my bosses and they sat me down don't do this young man you have a future in the firm and i said i want to go write books. they said we can't do anything about that. >> rose: did you tell them you would write about them. >> it wasn't hostile but it was very clear because i went back and actually went back to the firm and interviewed people afterwards. >> rose: they easily wanted to talk to you. >> not good forty three but everybody else. i was friend with a lot of them but the mortgage people who invented the mortgage bond market which eventually leads to the financial crises. >> rose: louis coy. >> after i got out, he was very helpful. >> rose: was he cynical about it. >> upset the he was emotional about it. he felt a bond -- >> rose: was it something of value that was important. >> i felt it was a wet bomb when him and the firm he worked for. it's so different from now. there was a real love of the place and he could be run out. he just couldn't believe it.
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he was shocked. >> rose: the other thing that interests me is that people like paul volcker and others have complained about the best and bright going into financial engineering and that's really bad because they should be going into government and other places. do you think a that's happening and b is it possible those are people now because of the power of silicon valley and the amount of money being made in silicon valley. i don't know many people who have been ten years on a business and all of a sudden sell it for $20 billion. you're not doing that on wall street. so is that more attractive to the smartest. >> i think there are a couple answers. first, wall street tracks people who are very ambitious but don't know what they're ambitious about. silicon valley is attractive if they have an idea, something specific they want to do. if you want to know about computers. they tend to come with clear set of skills in sell cone valley with a slightly different crowd
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i think drifts that way. wall street4]-still does provis the use of the bjv]st colleges n the country with a place to go when they don't know what they want to the. >> rose: are they coming out of primary harvard business school or columbia business school. >> under graduates. >> rose: having studied as you did romans languages-whatever you studied. >> wall street is so affected the educational people don't study art history because they don't think they'll get a job on wall street. >> rose: isn't that terrible. no sense of the value of humanity. >> there's no sense of the purpose of life. people sacrifice so much for things they actually probably shouldn't want. and i think what wall street does because there's so much money and it's sort of exciting unlike most business jobs, it gives young people a sense that it is a calling or feels like a
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calling instead of a job. and it just completely eliminates the need to agonize about what you're going to do with your life. >> rose: what does it have to do with status? >> well if you think about it -- >> rose: be part of the establishment, they want status. >> they want to have an answer to the question, what are you doing. and it used to be, it goes from i'm going to harvard and they get a certain response to that so i work at goldman and you get the same response to that and it solves the problem. if you need that response as you move through the world wall street gives you that response. >> rose: what do you think of the secret bowman tapes. >> terrific. >> rose: i'll bet you did. >> oh my god. so carmen -- >> rose: you called it the ray rice video of wall street. >> she's the erin bronkovich to
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help regulate goalman sacks was frustrated by her ability to do anything and also the kind of revisionist history. something would happen at a meeting and she would be scandalized. goldman sachs person said she turned to her fellow employees and say can you believe she said that. oh she never said that. these tapes, the toner incredible. it's the regulators have no spine, they are just scared. they tonight want to get in a fight. they want to keep everything sweet. i think this is the problem and i think that it's captured doesn't even begin to describe the problem. it's sort of like if you are a regulator, you just don't want to antagonize the system because you may quite likely one way or another -- >> rose: if you work for the sec you're talking about post sec world rather than regulating wall street. that's probably why you like
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senator warren so much. >> she seems, i don't say this lightly but she seems uncorruptable. she figured on you that happiness is -- >> rose: and it's core is corrupt. >> not everybody on wall street's crement. >> rose: i'm not saying everybody. >> it's like every occupy has its hazards and the sums of money you can get on wall street to do things you shouldn't do and live a life you shouldn't live are quite high so that there are incentives to behave in a certain way. and it's not all a simple evil. >> rose: it's what? >> well, it's pretending to ask for what you don't have. >> rose: is it greed. >> it's not exactly greed. the greed from this is desire for status. it's desire to be a big fish. >> rose: do you think of yourself as a financial writer or sometimes a writer. >> it's an accident i ended up here. and i had access because of liar's poker to post financial
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crises stories that were great. so i've written those. but it's quite possible. >> rose: all about baseball obviously. >> the blind side. my kids. >> rose: the one about kids going to the baseball game or whatever it was. >> yes. >> rose: being a father. >> i've written about presidential campaign i wrote about silicon valley. >> rose: speaking of the presidential campaign what do you think of the fact the principal issue in this campaign is a man you profiled for vanity fair, president obama. >> what do i think about, he's become such a liability to his party. >> rose: yes. >> it happens. i think -- >> rose: did he bring it on himself do you think. >> i think, yes, it does. i think it's mainly unfair but people when they're unhappy they blame the president. and i think so you ask what book
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i want to write. i'll tell you, i want to move into his life the last year of his presidency and write about presidential decision-making that will come out after he's president, after he's done. i have a feeling, one of the reason i think that the book would work i think it will work as a literary project. it's a wonderful way to get it to him and also the office. but i bet, i predict the year after he's out people are going to miss it. that's what i think. >> rose: because. >> because i think people are not sitting where he's sitting seeing what he's seeing. they don't see the complexity of the destionz he's got to make. and i think that a lot of what's wrong in the world is not actually his fault. >> rose: but it's his responsibility to respond to it. >> and i think his mistakes, to the extent he's made mistakes i understand. i feel it because i'm not a political person really. i don't spend a lot of time
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thinking about it, but i feel like i'm happy the country is in his hands. i hi his heart's in the right placey really smart. he's got disadvantages and one of them is his temperment. he's really not that interested in you. he's interested in justice -- >> rose: one of the places people said in the first six years said to me just that. said she's he back doing. i think she's going to write. i really think he's a writer. >> even as he's in office. most people politicians when you sit down with them, you sense riot away their political type of person and one way or another they're seeking to flaherty -- >> rose: he said bill clinton's a writer. >> obama's watching. and he's completely neglecting his responsibility to flatter you. he says that's not part of me.
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he doesn't want to go, that's not what he wants. he likes relationships between equals. he's not manipulative and that all hurts him. there are things about him that makes him ill suited for the job but i'm glad he's in the job. writers should have their shot. every hundred years you put a writer in there. >> rose: you too could be president. >> i'll never be. he's ruined it. >> rose: has he agreed to the project? >> he was interested in it. >> rose: i'm sure he is. >> he may say no. >> rose: it's you or david remnick, people like you and rep anything. >> if he says no he says no and i'll write about something else. >> rose: it's irresistible to him. irresistible. >> i don't see the down side. and i think that the world benefits from an inside view of that office. like we don't really have good ways of judging or evaluating. >> rose: i can't wait to read
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the damn book. >> it's a bit like judging baseball managers. baseball managers have very little control or games. what happened in the field happened in the general manager's office when they decide who to put on the field. the manager has a dial he can turn and maybe affect the. he takes all the plame and all the credit for the game. it's crazy. i feel it's a bit like that. >> rose: the book is called liars' poker rise is through the wreckage of wall street. there's a new afterword here. >> a pleasure. >> rose: good to see you. back in a moment. stay with us. >> rose: aaron david miller here is between 1988 and 2003 he advised six secretary of states on the israeli palestinian negotiations. he's currently a vice president and distinguished scholar to woodrow wilson international for scholars. his book is called the end of greatness, why america can't have and doesn't want another great president. i'm pleased to have aaron david miller back at this table.
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welcome. >> a pleasure charlie. >> rose: is it a pleasure for you to get away talking about the mid east for a moment. >> it is, actually. i felt a certain sense of liberation in applying myself to this. i started with a civil war story actually. i noticed toking 20 years of negotiations when things happened, it was because we were dealing with leaders who were masters of their political houses and not prisoners of their constituencies. then i began to understand the importance of leadership. >> rose: they don't make the history -- >> it's the interaction of the individual human agency and circumstance that usually determines why things happen. what i began to understand about the presidency, greatness three undeniably great presidents in 250 years that undeniable greatness is driven sure by personality, character and capacity. but largely by circumstance. and the circumstance was nation
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crises that's why i argue in the book you don't want another great president because if you have one -- nieflt you have a wrait crises. >> exactly. >> rose: that bemoans -- >> and teddy roosevelt in a very famous line. no one would have known his name had there been no civil war. they lamented the fact he's a consequential president. he belongs in, i put he and four colleagues in what i call close but not cigar category. jefferson, jackson, testifiedy roosevelt, wilson that's arguable and then harry truman. their crises were not as great. their flaws larger. each identified and shepherded the nation through a very consequential period. >> rose: if you had to live one of those, who would be closest to the top three, who would it be. truman. >> i think i would pick teddy
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roosevelt. in large part because he was a republican president in many respects a paradox. hunter and yet a conservationist a believer in rugged individuals yet someone who saw government as an agent of reform. and remedy. the internationalists talking very pragmatic. actually a remarkable man. >> rose: ambition for the quality of greatness. >> ambition and i mean real ambition. look at the three undenyables. 23 washington was the best known military figure in the state of virginia. lincoln was terribly ambitious and driven and of course frankly roosevelt who i believed the presidency was not his due but it was his destiny. these were men driven by individual passion and ambition attached to a broader enterprise which was the american experiment. and that's why in a sense they had their own party and began to be appreciated by republican and
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democrats and independentents alike. >> rose: they know how to work people together. >> and what they had were they were emotionally intelligent. they were not haunted by demons. they were men of great discipline and i think they were at ease with who they were. that's so important to projecting the sense ask a bond with the public. and in the end, the public's affirmation and validation of president incredibly important. inner had a great long term president. and likely never will because it's critically important that the president establish that second term bond. it is the people's office and people ask me the other day, you know, why should i listen on the principles. it's a tear to go prospect. yes i'm an american historian but why should they listen. my response was it's a national conversation. this is our office. the conclusion of the book is get real about what we should
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expect out of these. >> rose: is that part of some kind analogy to don't let perfect be any good. >> it is. you could even argue charlie that the greatest obstacle the greatness of the president see is the office itself. because the founders willfully designed an office that was energetic but accountable. and because they feared the royal governors and the king they didn't want powers aggregated. hamilton may have but they didn't want power aggregated and misused so they created a system of accountability, checks and balances which present an enormous challenge to any president. and what i'm trying to argue in the book is, presidents, even the greatest presidents didn't create the circumstances. the intuitive exploited and took advantages of the moments they had and they had the character and the capacity three c's of presidential greatness.
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christ opens the door, cherish and capacity enables. >> rose: competent. >> competent, management of a cabinet finding the right people to add vie you. washington's all star team of rivals. >> rose: obama had pretty good cabinet. >> he did. very smart people but the situation has changed since our last great president. >> rose: who in your mind, would it be teddy roosevelt most likely to enter the top level. >> minus the big nation encumbering crises. i argue three and five greats. close but no cigar presidents. i identified three post fdr who i consider to have what i called traces of greatness real or imagined. they are jack kennedy frozen forever, and cuba. lyndon johnson who without vietnam would have been the most
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transformative legislative president for three civil rights bills. >> rose: it was because of the demons he couldn't get his arms around. >> even fdr in that 64 election did i beat fdr he wanted to you in a. and reagan is the third. >> rose: reagan. because. >> it's funny not a great president in my judgment but a guy who was great at being president. a guy who changed the nature of the debate over the role of government. a guy who we can argue all day long was a key factor, not the key, in bringing about it into the cold war and a guy who restored a measure of prestige to an office over the perverbial fall. >> rose: the by who knew or to have you been someone like jim bakker around. >> firing people for reagan became a real problem in his administration. so you get a sense these larger than life figures somehow are
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gone. and you know, i mean obama will be an historic president. >> rose: because. >> but lee be a great -- >> rose: because what he inherited. >> well i think at first because he owed a debt to lip conthat none of our other presidents had. and that is the fact that he's the first african american president is extraordinary. the fact that he inherited the two longest wars of the american history and greatest recession since the great depression and it was so bad but the question is he set such a high bar. do you know that the inaugural lunch during the first inauguration because a replica of mary todd lincoln's china. he recreated literally the exact meal that lincoln -- >> rose: whose idea was this. >> that was the inaugural committee's but obama actually had in essence a real admiration of lincoln coy. >> rose: you have people stepping forward like leon
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panetta and bob gates questioning whether he has the passion of leadership. >> more than one observer, including fdr's most recent biographers, gene edward smith made this point. at the fire the partisanship foo drive national change was missing from this president. >> rose: smith said that about obama. >> exactly. that detachment reserve the caution of the professor is appropriate for decision-making but not for politics. >> rose: when you think about secretaries of the state, you served for six. >> yes. i don't want to make anybody unhappy. i'll be clear and honest with you. >> rose: whose number one. >> i don't, well in the last 50 years we've had in my july two undeniably consequential secretaries of state. >> rose: kissinger and. >> and james baker.
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and i worked, i didn't work toward kissinger but i did work for baker. the three ingredients you need to be a consequential effective secretary of state number one the support of the president. and i don't mean the rhetorical support i mean the bond with the president. baker had it. number two, the opportunity. the were has to at least be in some measure of stress that makes it amenable to some kind of american fix. and negotiating skills. the world got to be an unassembled jigsaw puzzle on your living room floor and intuitiveliment i don't know how these guys do it. kissinger was act democratic, how do you truly understand how to negotiate. both of these guys. >> rose: if you look at where the president is today, it's a huge threat today, was there opportunity or is there opportunity that he has some of these qualities he can carve out
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for himself, a legacy that is much better than it is going into this crises. >> i would argue charlie that the world has become such a cruel and unforgiving place. much more complex than the cold war which presented a world of semi order. if you ask people what was the most dissecret important act of foreign policy that obama undertook, the most heroic act foreign policy in his presence he probably would say he killed osama bin laden. but other than that you've got a world on fire. you've got vladimir putin having his way in the yew crepe, you've got decentralization in the middle east in syria and iraq. you have the emergence of isis. the new boogie man threatening the united states. these are generational problems. >> rose: i would assume with respect to president obama. he inherited an economic crises that needed his full attention. >> yes. >> rose: there was not time for him to go off around the
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world and try to solve all the crises or to find some central principle that needed to be applied. that had to stop. a collapse of the economic system. >> right. and managing this became given the fact that the politics were hostile. >> rose: exactly. >> became not an opportunity at all but a burden. and i think that has, he has much less than a thousand days in his presidency. it's hard to see now even though the final judgment on obama's record will take time, it's hard to see now how he navigates through. >> rose: where do we put the ever present bill clinton? >> fascinating question. he and reagan are undeniably in my judgment the two most effective american politicians presidents of the 20th century after fdr. >> rose: political operators. >> yes, yes. relative piece and great prosperity during.
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but the law scandal keeping those hidden demons under control, critically important for presidents, critically important. but i think you know the african american even now who do you want back. clinton and reagan's name along with jack kennedy. >> rose: of course they now say reagan couldn't get the nominations of his own party. >> that's probably right. >> rose: some say that. and bush 41. >> a guy works had a great deal of admire asian. these are transactional presidents, eisenhower, bush 41. men who i think understood their times. didn't inspire to grandiose dreams and ambitions, were competent and effective. the conclusion is don't think great, think good but think good not in the banal ordinary sense. >> rose: people think of
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jimmy carter where he didn't use a word with malaise and they identify him as one term, and they identify him with all kinds of things. but it seems to me and you would know this specifically, it took uncommon ability to achieve camp david. >> a hundred percent. extraordinary testament and every egyptian and israeli, the one that remain will tell you, this would not even with the great saddam and begin, it took carter to put this together. no question about it. >> rose: the most difficult of odds. >> really hard. think about it. i interviewed carter for this book and i asked him with all due respect mr. president how come we have not had a great president since fdr. and his response was extraordinary and he said because we haven't had a good war. even carter. and the truth is the last good war was fdr.
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truly fdr's war. >> rose: what if jimmy carter had rescued the hostages? that's equivalent to osama bin laden. >> it would have been altered. >> rose: given him second term for sure. >> i would think. >> rose: why america can't have and don't want another great president. the argument why they don't want of course is because great presidents obviously come on the top of a crises that is threatening to the country at large. thank you. a pleasure. >> thank you. >> rose: aaron david miller. back in a moment. stay with us. >> rose: russell james is here. he's an australian born fashion photographer. say he has the best job in the world. for the past 15 years he's been
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the main photographer of victoria secrets. his work appeared in vogue, sports illustrated and w magazine. his new look focuses of the female for it is called angels. i'm pleased to have russell james on this program. how did you come to photography? >> i'm probably an accidental photographer. my curiosity was my single answer. i had a great diverse background i left school early i i was making trash cans, i trained dogs, i was a police officer for five years. i did many different things. what that all amounted to i had a fascination for the world. i started traveling. eventually back in the year 1999, i was in the dark room with a photographer. i was assisting him. just as a means of income and i just became fascinated with the process. i saw an minute lift -- image lift out of the pain. we're talking about a time when digital film was a myth.
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it was a singular moment that grabbed me and said this is what i want. >> rose: regardless what the camera said whether it's digital or analogue or whatever it might be separates good from best. >> subjective. it's who you ask. i stood before a picture with 20 different people you may get 20 different opinions. >> rose: one is not better than the other. >> i would argue one is not necessarily better than the other. it's in the eye of the beholder but certainly for me there are very specific aspects. i was inspired greatly by irving penn, that's me lighting the connection if there's a person involved or a model, the connection to the camera isn't real. and a balance. and perspective to the photograph. what digital has done is equalize the playing field.
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anybody could get into an entry level with a camera. >> rose: how did you come to us. these are beautiful women photographed in a beautiful way. it's just the cover there. did you finally decide look this is what, i mean why. >> i came to it delicately. it was the i planned to do a book on nude genre. when i was indeducted into the finite gallery in berlin represented the archive of people like irvington. >> rose: right, right. >> and my passion was divided. i had as i said a landscape to a portrait of someone that i seen significantly but never known. they all compelled me in the same way. and nude photography has a, there's a very special thing about it. it's an empty canvas.
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if you're shooting photographs for let's say a vow of a certain kind you can pretty much take a photo like. this a photograph of a woman, have a partner in the photograph and have her come back. to me the most important credittic is the subject itself. >> rose: what's the essence of shooting the nude body? >> you start with an appreciation i guess that would be one thing. >> a great appreciation, which we go back to early art and say it's compelled from the very beginning. from any time being not recorded. i go out to some of the most ancient rock art known to man kind and it contains the nude. >> rose: what are sculptures. >> whatever it may be. so what compels. i mean it's the purist form but there are so many different ways
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you can take it. you can take it to the most vulgar and offensive to the most beautiful and delicate and in the and there's all those things in between. >> rose: or the most liberating and the most subjugating. >> absolutely. for me what drives me the most is that what i do isn't offensive but rather parship. >> rose: how do you agree with that. >> there comes a moment where the subject and i've got a catch raw and i take a photograph and i think the worst thing you do at that moment is take this full body picture. so i start shooting very close directly into the eye. there's something amazing about doing that because they're saying that the eye's being windows of the soul. absolutely true. once i find the calmness of the person and they start to look at the camera and they understand i'm interested -- >> rose: they're communicating with the camera -- >> they get to communicate with
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you. >> rose: they go through the lens to you. >> yes. it's about a technical object but the conversation has to be the level or the tone has to be at a level. so the opposite of helpful are things like sexy. that's the opposite of helpful. i think in that environment what is helpful is talking before i start shooting obviously we can talk anything about lunch, food, kids, life. politic. things. but then when i feel the tension trop i just start talking the photograph and everybody understands the shoe -- shoot has started at that point. >> rose: does beauty means something different to you now because you thought about it ask photographed it and tried to reflect it. >> it means, yes. beauty has changed as i've matured and i've doled and lived life spent a lot of times like in haiti and taking portrait of
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people down there. i certainly don't, i say it with complete honesty but when i'm traveling a person, albeit an aboriginal elder or member of the tribe in florida or a tribal girl there's a beauty about the photograph. when you're on the other side, it's the strangest thing but it's so careful and i'm gauging when you're in it, i get lost in that moment. >> rose: the other thing that comes up, what you do is you're objectfying. >> from an artist perspective working with thing that are very sacred the good thing is i'm shooting women for woman. so value can be measured on how women receive it. i've got daughters, so i'm very conscious of the objectiveification of women.
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and it's a balancing and at the end of the day for one part of my career i'm taking photographs of nude people. and at the same time i have to think how do i balance that so that i'm actually empowering women. i do a lot with young women don't faf them nude but we do a lot of work brg them into the industry and let them see the inside and see it's not a bad objectiveification. this is very much about objectfying 20 years and probably the last ten there has been a change. >> rose: the beginning of this book. this is alexandra in new york city in 2013. >> a lot of news i do there's no nudity and that is the art. some of it is the -- someone like alexandra it's just amazing we have the moment, we can calm the room enough to have a look
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at the camera and not say do anything let her eyes and her body speak. >> rose: this is lily aldridge too. what should i notice about this? >> that is to me lily. >> rose: in other words her share's not sort of perfect. >> exactly. what i notice about lily is i photograph lily very much for the cosmetic brands but lily is about as rounded a person as you can get. she's a remarkable mother, she's a remarkable spokesperson. she's philanthropic in her nature and she's an absolutely gorgeous woman. so all those things i feet like were embodied in that picture. the boot is just about and she walks in a pair of genes. >> rose: then there is this. this is a picture from your
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nomad series. >> bonnie taken in the northwest of australia with an elder and his name was donny. and it's some things are self explanatory. i looked at the eyes of bonnie and i just said i can literally see the 50,000 years of your culture in your eyes. and there wasn't a lot of explanation to it. i shot widely around the area. in fact we'll go back there in the next week with an an regional group in the northwest of australia. etcetera always compelled me, the eyes of people again whether it's a beautiful woman or an ancient elder or whether a person we know very well. like barbra streisand. >> rose: what's that. >> this is a vehicle that started as a foundation,
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philanthropic own defer where i would subright with indigenous cultures. i did it because there are so many issues with indigenous cultures where they've been marginalized. the indigenous groups i've met there's extraordinary suffering going on. >> rose: these are the seminoles. >> but this tribe is the seminole tribe of florida. they have one of the greatest success stories that i've ever experienced. so i've been working on something we call feminal spirit which will launch in 2015 in new york. what i hope to show is a positive side to what is often a negative. so this tribe has kept their culture and at the same time has adapted as good at or better as anyone has in one day. >> rose: the next how this kind of photograph is. what are you looking for. clearly you're looking into his
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eyes. >> for me this is an absolute mentor. i had the great privilege to travel to haiti in particular and to other places but where what i was looking at in that photograph is i drew inspiration and understanding what i was doing with an art project, when people like president clinton and richard brandston said don't be awe shale of socially conscious business. you can't mix philanthropic endeavor with social activities. i said you can because you're climbing up a chimney. it's entirely possible. when i look at president clinton that's what i'm sag. i'm saying my mentor in the space of this social commitment. this is outside of politics and which side of the fence who is a person i believe is really engaged. >> rose: are you talking to him to create that particular thing you're looking for there. is there communication between the two of you or is he simply posing and you're waiting for the moment that you want. >> in that case we're talking about the citadel which is the biggest fortress in the western
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hemisphere up in the north of haiti and i've been doing a documentary to live on the citadel. and it represents the nurse nation formed by free slaves. that was the conversation we're having. i just interviewed the president on that subject and i asked if i could take some photographs and i did. and so really i guess the closest thing to me, it was just his personality is what i was looking for like who he actually is. >> rose: when did you take this? >> that photograph is very recent, i would say in the last four months. >> rose: the are a whole range of things here. where is the biggest passion for you. you could go out today and somebody said just take a month and go whatever you want to do, what would you do? >> that would be the hardest choice to make. it would be very hard because my passion of photography is broad
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but surely i would probably go to the roots that have driven me and that is really around indigenous culture. in many ways the wild life culture. again i want to i about all the elements that are involved in angels and bring them together in one roll. >> rose: thank you for coming. >> thank you very much. >> rose: this book is called angels. russell james. thank you for joining us. see you next time. for more about this program and early episodes visit us on-line at pbs.org and charlierose.com. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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